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Comment: Great programmers should get higher pay (Score 1) 429

by duckintheface (#48677797) Attached to: Paul Graham: Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In

Sure, let the best programmers in. But the law should require H1B immigrants to be paid 20% more than the average pay for workers at the same level. This would ensure that the immigrants really are exceptional and are not beng brought in to undercut the wages of citizens. Over time, if there are lots of immigrants under this 20% requirement, the average wage will rise and so the pay of additional immigrants will also rise. This will continue until it's cheaper to hire citizen workers.

Comment: Re:"pioneer inventor of new technology" ??? (Score 2, Insightful) 167

by duckintheface (#48674821) Attached to: Bill Gates Sponsoring Palladium-Based LENR Technology

I guess you have made my case. :) Fonts. A minor derivative language. Astronomy visualization. For these the US taxpayer sacrificed $billons in lost revenue that had to be made up from the taxes of hard-working creative folks who actually make useful things. Gates didn't build his monopoly the old fashiioned (and legal) way. Microsoft inherited an OS monopoly from IBM becasue IBM was arrogant enough to think that only IBM could sell operating systems. Microsoft stole their monopoly in internet browsers from Netscape, for which they were convicted and fined (not heavily enough). Microsoft could go away tomorrow and the world would be a better place.

Comment: "pioneer inventor of new technology" ??? (Score 3, Interesting) 167

by duckintheface (#48674753) Attached to: Bill Gates Sponsoring Palladium-Based LENR Technology

TFA calls Gates a pioneer. Well, the covered wagon part is right. Please name something of value that was invented by Gates himself. Give up? Ok, without looking it up.... name something of real scientific or technological value invented by Microsoft Research Labs. That lab allowed Gates to take enormous tax write-offs but never produced any scientific or tecnological break-throughs. But hey, it was all in good tax-dodging fun, right?

Comment: Mission Creep (Score 3, Interesting) 225

by duckintheface (#48652149) Attached to: GCHQ Warns It Is Losing Track of Serious Criminals

The warrantless wiretap surveillance of citizens was originally justified as a national security necessity to fight terrorism. But it is ostensibly being used for a different purpose.... law enforcement against drug crimes. And you can be sure that it will also be used for surveillance of political enemies and for industrial espionage. There is a reason the Constitution guanantees that no search can be made without a warrant. It's because the power to snoop is a drug in itself, addicting those who have it to abuse those who don't.

Comment: Re:Big bags of water... that's what we are. (Score 0) 156

by duckintheface (#48649953) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

A large impact could melt the crust of Earth to the mantle. Is that bad enough for you? There is no reason to think that impactors will be limited to mere Chicxulub size.
Distance to Mars per se is not the issue. It's the fuel requirement vs the transit time that matter. If human missions were sent at optimal planetary alignments and with constant ion engine acceleration, the transit time could be reduced to a few months. That reduces the need for on board life support, reduces radiation exposure, reduces health effects from zero gravity (since there would be "gravity" from the constant acceleration, and makes survival more probable.

What humans would do when they got there is what we are supposed to be doing here.... building civilization. The mission is not about science but about survival. That's why it's worth the blood and treasure.
You assume that our Earth civilization will still be able to support a Mars colonization mission in 5 centuries. I don't know when the pinnacle of technological civilization will occur. The sooner we get about the business of establishing a secondary self-sustaining outpost, the safer we will be.... from asteroids, runaway AI, grey goo, nuclear war, weaponized ebola, etc, etc.

I agree with you about the unsuitability of "inspiration" as a motive for colonization. I said that in my original post.

Comment: Re:Big bags of water... that's what we are. (Score 0) 156

by duckintheface (#48648577) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

And what are people in space thinking about? They are mostly thinking about maintaining their habitat.... which is not necessary unless you insist on having people in space. Activities in near Earth orbit are close enough (by light speed signals) that the thinking can be done on the ground. Activities in deep space are very expensive and dangerous to maintian if you have human participants. That money would be better spent develping smarter robots.

Comment: Re:Big bags of water... that's what we are. (Score 0) 156

by duckintheface (#48648509) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

Yes, if you had a self-sustaining moon colony it would survive most global disasters. But so would a Mars colony, and a Mars colony would be much easier to establish. Once you have boosted out of Earth's gravity well, the difference between going to Luna and going to Mars is minimal, especially for non-living supplies that don't require life support.

Comment: Re:Big bags of water... that's what we are. (Score 0) 156

by duckintheface (#48648491) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

We have landers now that can soft land thousands of pounds at once. Much heavier weights can be balloon-bounce landed at higher shock forces. Many items, including food and reserve oxygen could stand such forces. As to how much.... you can't have too much. Start sending the stuff there and keep sending it for the 100 or 1000 years... as much as is needed. There is no higher priority than the survival of the species. We spent $2 trillion on Iraq and got NOTHING for it. So if it costs $10 trillion or $100 trillion or $1000 trillion to save the species, that would be a good deal.

Comment: Big bags of water... that's what we are. (Score 3, Interesting) 156

by duckintheface (#48646931) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

The human body is a fragile bag of water, not well suited to radiation exposure, temperature extremes,changes in air pressure, high acceleration forces, or long periods of isolation from a sustaining biosphere. Almost anything that can be done in space is better done by robots. The ONLY reason for people to venture into space is to get to the surface of another habitable planet for which we are evolved. And there is only one such place in reach: MARS!

Yes there are good reasons for going to Mars. Greatest among them is to safeguard the species from any catestrophic impacts on Earth they would extinguish us. We have the technology to colonize Mars now. To make it economical, colonization should be a one-way pioneering trip. Nobody comes back, ever. (I made this suggestion to NASA 17 years ago and was told that NASA does not do suicide missions. Now, many folks at NASA have come around to my point of view. )

Rep. Culberson has not learned the crucial lesson from the demise of the Apollo program... that political motivations for exploring space are not sustainable in the minds of a fickle constituency that wants to be entertained by a list of new "American Firsts in Space". Colonization of Mars requires the serious dedication of the best scientists of Earth to the mission of human survival.

Forget the moon. In terms of the fuel required to reach it on a one-way mission, it is not really much closer than Mars. I has far less to offer as a base for a new sustainable human civilization. (Although I'm sure it would make a nice military base to shoot stuff at Earth). The fact the Rep. Culberson is talking about returning to the moon is the best indication that he is not a serious thinker about why NASA should be involved in human space travel.

Comment: Revolution (Score 4, Insightful) 622

by duckintheface (#48642519) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

The last line of the article is the most important. " Otherwise, people will find a solution — human beings always do — but it may not be the one for which we began this technological revolution." The word "revolution" here is a double entendre. He is saying something you will not often read in the Harvard Business Review: that automation is going to destabilize society to an extreme extent.

mbone, you are exactly correct that this is about concentration of wealth. The concentration of wealth is self-limiting because nobody will have money to buy the goods being produced. But conditions of life at the limit will be unbearable. So a new mechanism to distribute the bounty of society will have to be developed. But the rich will not recognize that until the mobs with pitchforks are breaking into their gated communities.

Comment: Mr Barone: (Score 2) 417

by duckintheface (#48567479) Attached to: AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us

1) already rich --
So what? I never said his motivation was personal profit. There are many motivations to be self serving.

2) the head of an extremely well-funded (Paul Allen money) NON-PROFIT, with the business model of "let's try to do some cutting edge AI research with open source code"
  So what? He wants, for whatever reason, to make AIs. Is he ignoring the fact that programmers (and since this is open source everyone will have the source code) will decide to intentionally make the AI autonomous. In fact, I'm pretty sure someone will be working on autonomy long before the AI actually becomes functional.

and 3) an actual world-class expert in the field, rather than a smart person prognosticating about something he only casually understands
He is an expert in something that does not yet exist? That's ridiculous. There is a clearly real danger here. That does not necessarily mean stop, but it certainly does mean that extreme caution is warranted.

Comment: Until the angry mob.... (Score 0) 162

by duckintheface (#48566249) Attached to: An Algorithm To Prevent Twitter Hashtag Degeneration

figures out the algorithm. The problem here is that the mob has figured out how to abuse hashtags. So how long would it take for the mob to also figure out that they can take over the hashtag by making "thoughtful" ratings on the mobs favorite meme. The mob can iterate this process faster than the tweet masters can fix it.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.